The COVID-19 pandemic has seen the recruitment scene disrupted, with new demands of jobs and working-from-home arrangements. As organisations in Asia Pacific responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, they started to embark on digital transformations that would have typically taken months, if not years, to implement. Studies by the Ministry of Manpower  and Kelly Services Singapore  have also shown that digital skills are high-in-demand and imperative for marketing professionals in 2020. 

As companies and talent professionals prepare for 2021, LinkedIn's recent study titled "The Future of Recruiting - Asia Pacific" predicted that employer brand will hinge on empathy and actions. The year 2020 has been one where brands and organisations found their voice, whether it was expressing gratitude for essential workers during the health crisis, or showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Organisations that offered authentic reflections on the world around them have then been well-received.

In Asia Pacific, LinkedIn recorded year-on-year growth of senior leaders taking the lead and initiating conversations about diversity. Furthermore, it found that empowering a brand's own people to be ambassadors for the organisation is one of the most authentic ways to demonstrate employer brand. A member’s post will gain three times the traction than a company’s. If employees are proud of their employer, they can show that their company puts people first. 

Going forward, employer branding needs to focus less on slick marketing of office perks and shiny amenities, and more on how employers support their communities, be it customers or employees, during times of crisis.

Recruiters will also need to demonstrate employer’s brand in their interactions with candidates, through a focus on an empathetic and accommodating hiring process. The LinkedIn study found that candidates engage more when companies speak on current events. Compared to the average engagement for company posts, engagement on company posts about COVID-19 in April saw an increase of 28%. 

Another prediction that LinkedIn have is that recruiting will help keep businesses accountable on diversity. According to the study, 74% of Asia Pacific talent professionals said diversity will be very important to the future of recruiting, and 54% of Asia Pacific talent professionals say hiring managers are held accountable for interviewing diverse slate of candidates. 

Diversity is no longer a compliance measure or a tick-box exercise, but an integral part of any organisation’s talent plan.

LinkedIn also saw a rise in the number of diversity, inclusion and belonging positions across Asia Pacific. It attributed this trend to companies attempting to cultivate a culture of belonging where its people are empowered to express ideas and innovate. For recruiters, LinkedIn said there has never been more access to new and diverse talent pools as remote work and increased flexibility means underrepresented groups face fewer barriers. Meanwhile, more data-driven reporting against diversity goals will see greater accountability not just around more diverse hires, but that diverse talent is retained and is engaged.
This year also saw plenty of hires for diversity leaders. Last week, luxury brand Prada hired Malika Savell as its chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for North America as it seeks to make the group more inclusive. Similarly earlier this month, media company Comcast appointed Dalila Wilson-Scott as chief diversity officer. Beauty brand also L’Oréal Group formed a UK diversity and inclusion advisory board of voices inside and outside the company, which will influence and inform its action plan. Meanwhile on the agency front, S4 Capital, for example, also appointed Naoko Okumoto and Margaret Ma Connolly as non-executive directors to enhance governance and diversity in the company last December. Following the appointments, S4 Capital said its board is equally comprised of executive and non-executive directors and has a majority of female non-executives.

Skills Southeast Asia recruiters need

For many recruiters in Southeast Asia, the most important skills for them to have in 2021 is adaptability, oral communication, and time management. Among the respondents, 55% of Asia Pacific talent professionals say adaptability will be the most important skill for recruiters over the next year. The fastest growing skill for recruiters in 2020 was found to be personal development, followed by diversity and inclusion, talent pipelining, decision-making, and HR strategy.

linkedin study top skills

Separately, there was also a distinct difference in how Asia Pacific recruiters saw their roles evolving as compared to the rest of the world. 74% surveyed in Asia Pacific thought employee engagement would become a much bigger part of their role, as compared with 67% globally. For recruiters, it seems that fostering people and relationships is seen as central to their role and success. In Asia Pacific, it is also observed that the hours recruiters are spending on learning has more than quadrupled from a year earlier.

Whether recruiters have been navigating hiring slowdowns, or perhaps working in an industry with a sudden surge in hiring demand, the constant shifts in business priorities, as well as the rapid adoption of new technology has demanded the ability to adapt and take on new skills.

Zooming in to Singapore, the report said recruiters in the market see developing their business acumen and understanding as key for the next year. Additionally, of the surveyed Singaporean recruiters, only 36% agreed their role will become less specialised, compared to the broader region’s 41%. So while they’re anticipating they’ll need to respond to business demands, they see they will do that through a talent lens. 

When recruiting externally, LinkedIn also found that Singapore has embraced virtual options. HSBC, for example, shifted its graduate hiring and onboard process online. This digital overhaul has seen HR offer new hires online access to virtual desktops, remote internships, and host virtual campus events with senior management. The survey found 68% of Singaporean recruiters thought virtual recruiting would be very important. Similarly, 78% of Asia Pacific's talent professionals agree virtual recruiting will continue post-COVID, while 72% said it will become the new standard in the industry. Going forward, LinkedIn predicts that workplaces are likely to be hybrids between onsite and remote employees, so making sure talent can deliver in a hybrid hiring setting also takes on new value. The report added that organisations will need to perfect their virtual processes, to make the technology seamless and human as possible.

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(Photo courtesy: 123RF )

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